The role of Inquisitor Emilio Bocanegra is played by a woman, veteran actress Blanca Portillo. This caused controversy, not so much because it might look disrespectful towards the Church, but because many fans could not see the point in doing something like this. Díaz Yanes said that he had had the idea of using a female actress from the beginning, because he saw 'that Great Inquisitor role' as something too cartoonish and black-and-white and wanted to introduce a fresh, less recognizable element to it, and still make viewers suitably uneasy about so powerful and fearful a character. He cited the Oscar-winning supporting role of Linda Hunt in The Year of Living Dangerously (1982), where she played a man, as an example of what he wanted to achieve. Incidentally, Blanca Portillo wears her hair very short in her next film, Volver (2006), as a result of having had it cut for this role.